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1  All eyes on me! in Halloween Costumes by witwhitherwilt on: November 03, 2014 11:51:44 PM
Our Halloween plans this year included going to see a great band, The Midnight Serenaders, that plays 1920s and '30s-style swing and jazz, so I wanted a retro-themed costume. I found a black fringed flapper-style dress at the Buffalo Exchange, but I wasn't going as an ordinary flapper. I wanted to go as the Googly-Eye Dress Flapper!

The local Dollar Tree has packages of 125 assorted-size googly eyes. For about two and a half weeks, I would sit every night with a curved, large-eyed upholstery needle, thread a strand of fringe through it, pierce the plastic shell of the googly eye, and knot the thread three times to secure it. I did this for roughly three hours a night. (Yes, we have Netflix.  Grin )

After a few days of this, I stood back from the dressmaker's dummy and asked my boyfriend: "So, do you think it's done? Does that look like enough googly eyes?"

He's usually wise to that trick, but this time he felt the answer was obvious, so he said, "Yes, yes I think that's definitely enough googly eyes."
Then I frowned at it a little more, and said: "No, I think it needs more googly eyes."

You see, part of the problem was that as the dress would shake, the eyes would turn around to show their plain white backs. So on the back of each googly eye you can see, I glued a second googly eye, using quick-dry fingernail glue.  I also had some flat-bottomed glass gems in assorted colors (also from the Dollar Tree) and glued some of these randomly to the backs instead, to give the beads some weight and sparkle.

So after a few days of this, I asked again: "So do you think this is enough googly eyes?"

This time, he answered, with confidence: "Yes, I see what you meant about it needing more before, but this is definitely enough googly eyes."
I frowned at it a little more. "No," I said. "I think it needs just a few more googly eyes."

So exactly how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop is "enough" googly eyes? Well, I ended up buying 18 bags of 125, plus the two extra-large ones I already had, from when I tried to put them on the robot vacuum. (It didn't like them.) By my rough count, there were about 250 eyes left over at the end, and I estimate maybe 150 more ended up lost to breakage, donated to a pumpkin-decorating party, or batted under the couch by our cat, Oreo. So I feel comfortable estimating that there are at least 1750 googly eyes on the dress, in total.  Shocked

I love the way it turned out, and that it sounds like being inside a rainstick when you walk. And so much fun for dancing! To fully appreciate it, you really have to see it shimmy.

Hey! My eyes are up here!  Roll Eyes

Thanks for checking out my entry!
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2  Suncatcher (nosy neighbor window screen) in CHALLENGE 88 ENTRIES by witwhitherwilt on: July 07, 2013 10:56:07 AM

The sheer curtains in my front room are nice during the day, but I've been a bit worried about passers-by on the street seeing in, especially since my boyfriend and I were both raised by hippies and tend to be a bit cavalier about the whole walking-around-naked thing. So in order to shield the neighbors from  Shocked I decided to make a suncatcher to hang in the window and provide a bit more coverage.

My dollar store materials list ($10 total):
4 rectangular plastic trays
2 oval plastic trays
2 little boxes made of flexible plastic stretched over a wire frame, which I took apart for the colored bits
1 bag of assorted color flat-bottomed craft/floral marbles
1 roll of clear packing tape

First I used crafting shears to cut the rims off of the plastic trays. This was the hardest part, and sent little shards of plastic flying everywhere. I recommend eye protection, and also not doing this in your living room unless you seriously enjoy vacuuming.

Once I had the flat bottoms of the trays, I used long strips of packing tape to tape them together, and glued the marbles on where I wanted them as accents. Then I cut the colored plastic into shapes to cover up and disguise the gaps of tape between the trays. I could have been a bit more precise about cutting/measuring to make it look more like stained glass, but by then it was getting late and my living room was entirely covered in little plastic bits and I couldn't be bothered. Finally, I "laminated" the whole thing with more strips of packing tape. Here are a few pics of it completed and hanging in the window.

Voil! A pretty Suncatcher for my window and no more scandalized neighbors. Thanks for checking out my entry--Dollar Store challenges are my favorite!
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3  Take a page from my book...gown! BOOK NOW AVAILABLE!! in Costumes: Completed Projects by witwhitherwilt on: October 16, 2009 05:30:39 AM
Edited to add: The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet is now on sale! I don't want to break the community rules by linking to it here, but you can find it in your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookstore.

As a writer living in Portland, OR, I always look forward to Wordstock, the city's largest annual book festival. One of the festival's highlights is the Text Ball, a literary-themed costume party thrown by the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Guests of this prom for word geeks are encouraged to attend "with text as part of their attire," and the theme for this year's ball was A Novel Idea.

As it happened, I had a three-inch-thick stack of my own "novel idea"--the second-pass pages from my upcoming historical novel, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet. Second-pass pages are the final step before a book is bound into ARCs (sometimes called "uncorrected proofs" or "galleys") and sent out to reviewers. They have the layout and typeset of the finished book, but on unbound, single-sided printer pages.

I was watching Project Runway's paper dress challenge when it came to me--I should make my Text Ball costume out of the pages of my own book! It semed like a creative and fun way to promote the novel at the festival. I would invite people to pluck a page at random off my skirt to keep and read!

First I printed black-and-white images of the cover art onto the backs of the first-pass pages by running them face-down through my printer. Then I cut the pages down to the actual book-size, a bit smaller than the printouts.

I had the green velvet renaissance-style gown and lace-up bodice already (I used to perform twisting balloons at children's birthday parties, and have a ridiculous variety of odd costume pieces in the back of my closet, "just in case."). But how to attach them to the gown so they could be easily removed? The answer: six boxes of fancy brass paperclips and my trusty needle-and-thread.

Yep--I hand-sewed more than 250 paperclips  individually onto the dress, one-at-a-time. I also made a "fringe" around the bottom of the bodice, then stuck in overlapping layers of promotional postcards to give it the stiff shape of an Elizabethan farthingale, to match the book's Shakespearean theme.

The stick-on letters wouldn't stay stuck to the velvet bodice, so I sewed them down as well. Then I curled each page around a pencil-thick dowel to give it some shape and volume and began hanging them from the paperclips.

I finally finished the project with barely an hour to spare before the ball. (Where are Cinderelly's mice when you really need them, right!?)  Here's a pic of me modeling the final result:

Of course, I then had to remove and carefully pack the gown into trashbags to take it to the ball (well I certainly wasn't going to be able to drive in the thing, or even sit in a cab!). Here's me getting dressed in the parking lot of the venue, which on a cold and rather windy night was a barrel of laughs, let me tell you. I lost a page or two to sudden gusts. But at least it wasn't raining!

The dress was actually quite comfortable, and the pages held surprisingly well until they were plucked, though every time I moved I made a sound like an Aspen tree. I was even able to dance, though I felt a bit like Ginger Rogers in Top Hat when I did!

Best of all for a shy, introverted writer-type like me, I was able to promote my book without having to approach people--strangers came up to me and asked about it! Everyone wanted to pluck a page, and since each one was different, there was a fortune-cookie feel as well, with people asking each other "What didja get?" or saying "Ooh, mine's a sex scene!"

Here I am back home again at the end of the night, stripped of all my pages. But now that the hard part--sewing on all 250 paperclips!--is done, it would be a relatively simple matter to make new printouts and re-attach them for another event. I really enjoy these sorts of weird-materials costumes--I don't think I've had this much fun with a craft project since my Dollar Store Wedding Gown!

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4  $10 Tiffany Lampshade--plus Bonus Art! (img heavy) in CHALLENGE 42 ENTRIES by witwhitherwilt on: September 04, 2009 04:14:56 PM
Those of you who have been around Craftster a while might remember the "stained glass" lampshade I made out of candy and fruit roll-ups for the grocery store challenge:  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=271783.0.

Well, as it turns out, though the shellacked candy lasts surprisingly well, its color doesn't. (Probably a good thing--can you imagine all those dyes in your stomach!?) After several months, the vibrant colors had faded into a uniform yellowish shade--BORING!

 Time for an upgrade--to real glass!

At the Dollar Tree I spent my $10 on:
     1 clear glass vase
      1 small 8"x8" square mirror
      1 package of "jeweled trim"--clear dangly beads sewn onto a ribbon, 1 yard.
      7 little net bags of glass "accent gems " for aquariums/flower arranging

Taking my trusty glue gun (also a Dollar Store purchase, though not this trip) I set to work. I was a bit worried about the heat of the lamp melting the glue, but when a few test gems stayed put, I soon began to cover the entire vase, using the ribbon trim around the bottom to make a fringe.

The results:

When I was done, I still had lots of gems left over, and I hadn't used the mirror at all. So I decided to step it up a notch (I am defending my Dollar Store title, after all! ;-) )
Inspired by the amazing broken glass mosaics created by local artist (and friend) Cecilia Cannon (http://www.ceciliacannon.com/--honestly, check her out, she's incredible) I decided to make a companion "art piece" for my new lamp.

Some more glue gun action:

And voila!

I think they look quite happy together.

Thanks for checking out my entry--and happy crafting!

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5  Necktie Couture--a "Hermes" original in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by witwhitherwilt on: August 29, 2009 01:28:49 AM

        I made this necktie dress a while back, but never got around to posting pictures. I didn't want it to be stiff and heavy like the necktie skirts I've seen, so I took each of the silk ties apart and removed the batting inside, then washed the ties and ironed them all flat before sewing. It's very light and comfortable!

I didn't really use a pattern--I just sewed them together until I had enough to fit around me,  then tucked in the narrow ends of the ties and hand-sewed the back to fit. For the straps, I simply sewed together the ends of the two ties on either side of the bodice, to make a halter.
(You can see the famous Oreo there on the porch as well.)

For the center of the bodice, I made a little necktie-detail from the end of an Herms tie I found in a thrift-store bin for $1.

It's particularly apt, since my own last name is Hermes--no relation to the Parisian designers, unfortunately! (When people ask, I usually say, "No--I'm related to the  god.") But I can with all honesty say that this dress is indeed a one-of-a-kind couture hand-sewn "Hermes" original!
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6  Cat-Scratch Fever to Cool Bespangled Couch (pic-o-riffic) in CHALLENGE 37 ENTRIES by witwhitherwilt on: April 03, 2009 05:07:04 AM
Meet our  kitty, Oreo:

She mostly enjoys life with her human servants, despite the fact that we are terribly cruel and hardly ever give her more than a bite or two of our sushi and sometimes deign to move when she is trying to sleep on us. But she especially likes the large green-velvet scratching-post in the living room. We like it, too--but we call it "the couch."  Attempts to train her not to scratch it have worked about as well as training a cat not to do something has ever worked for anyone in the history of feline-human relations.


 So when this challenge was announced, I decided to use the buttons both to cover up the scratches and to make the arm of the couch less "scratchable" in the future. I poured myself a glass of wine, put the figure skating championships on tv, and just started sewing the buttons directly onto the couch. (Hint for anyone else crazy enough to try this: a curved upholstery needle makes a huge difference. I got one after the first frustrating, finger-sticking day and it made things so much easier.)

At first I just meant to cover the torn-up corner:

But then I started to get a bit carried away...

I soon used up most of my buttons. A friend was kind enough to donate a bagful from her stash, and I literally jumped for joy when, after a fruitless day scouring thrift stores, I found several packages of them in the aisle at the Dollar store. I filled in the gaps between the buttons with random loose beads and shells I had lying around. I also incorporated some jewelry that I liked but never really wore, like this large Star-of-David pendant I inherited from my grandmother.

And here's the entire couch from the front:

From the side, it looks a little like a frame without a picture. I thought about filling it in with something, but didn't have time before the challenge deadline. So for now it just frames poor dejected Oreo, who has lost her scratching post and must now contemplate the deep ennui of life:

ETA: Thanks everyone for your concern about Oreo's wellbeing! Rest assured, she has a cardboard scratcher now that she likes a lot, though she sometimes stands on it and meows at me until I sprinkle on more catnip!

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7  Art "glass" lampshade--out of Fruit Roll-ups and gummi candy! in CHALLENGE 31 ENTRIES by witwhitherwilt on: October 03, 2008 04:55:52 AM

As much fun as I had with the Dollar Store challenge and my crazy conceptual wedding gown, this time I wanted to make something I could actually use. This seemed to eliminate most clothing options (eccentric as my fashions may sometimes be, I didn't see myself getting much wear out of, say, a popcorn-string-fringed flapper dress). But I was looking for a new glass shade for the lamp in the living room. Ever since the old one had been broken some months ago, I had simply draped a scarf over the naked bulb, Bohemian fire-hazard-style.

So I went down to the Fred Meyer, where I bought:
1 jar of Pickles @ $2.00.
3 packages of Fruit Roll-Ups (2 "Blastin Berry Hot Colors" and 1 "Tropical Tie-Dye") @ $2.99 apiece
2 rolls of individually-wrapped "natural" fruit leather (Apricot and Green Apple) from the produce aisle @ $.44 apiece
About 1/3 lb of gummi candies from the Brach's bulk kiosk, $1.20

Total: $13.05

At home, I quickly decanted the pickles into other containers and soaked the label off the jar with hot soapy water. To my delight, I found the jar fit perfectly into the housing of the lamp.

I unrolled the fruit roll-ups (putting them in the freezer for a few minutes first, I found, helps keep them from sticking to themselves and tearing) and sprayed them all over with several coats of clear acrylic spray gloss. (Don't use Mod Podge for this; it just melts into a gooey mess.) I picked out the Orange and Green Apple gummi candies from the Brach's bag and did the same to them. Here they are drying in the sun:

The fruit roll-ups never got quite as stiff as I was expecting--it was more like working with sheets of wax. I used a peacock feather stained-glass pattern I found here http://chantalstainedglass.50megs.com/2peacocksuncatcher.html as a rough guide.

 I cut out the pieces with scissors:

Then, using a generous amount of rubber cement, I glued the pieces one by one onto the pickle jar. The technique felt reminiscent of papier-mch. Rubber cement wasn't quite strong enough for the gummi candies though--those I had to reinforce with super glue.

When I was done, I let it dry, then sprayed the whole lampshade with several more coats of the acrylic gloss. Here it is, finally finished:
And a few close-up details:
It's hard to capture in a photo the richness and subtlety of the layered colors with the light shining through.

I'm really happy with how it turned out--so far no one who's come over has guessed that I made it, much less what it's made of. And best of all, my lamp is no longer pitifully naked in the corner.

Thanks for checking out my entry!

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8  Here Comes the Dollar Tree Bride! (img heavy): in CHALLENGE 26 ENTRIES by witwhitherwilt on: April 02, 2008 12:22:56 AM
I've never participated in a Craft Challenge before but as soon as this one was announced, I knew I had to do it! I love Project Runway and this reminded me of one of their wacky challenges, which are always my favorites.

And so I hit the local Dollar Tree, imagining Tim Gunn over one shoulder whispering "Make it work" and with visions of Austin Scarlett's cornhusk gown dancing in my head. I knew I had to think big if I was going to wow the judges. I made my way through the irregular toys, plastic Easter eggs, aisles of artificial flowers. Then I found a little display of discontinued wedding decor and invitations, and it came to me, in a vision:

 The $10 Couture Bridal Gown! (As Christian might say: It's Fierce! )

I picked through the aisles for anything white and frilly and finally decided to use:
3 2.5" by 108" spools of decorative wire-edged ribbon (one plain cream satin, one cream with a gold pattern, and one gold mesh)
3 bunches artificial calla lilles (8 blossoms per bunch)
1 off-white vinyl shower curtain
2 spools wedding tulle
1 package candle jewels (I'd never heard of these--essentially a long wire with gold plastic beads and fake pearls strung on it, which you wind around a pillar candle, in case your candle feels naked or something.)

The picture shows a package of prefab bows, which I eventually decided to put back in favor of the third roll of wire craft ribbon. Sorry the camera phone pics are so crappy.

I made the bodice first, wrapping craft ribbon around my mannequin and pinning it into place, then sewing the strips together. This took the entire roll of cream-and-gold ribbon. I added straps and extended the bodice with the plain cream ribbon. Then I took the fake flowers apart and used the chiffon corolla (the rest was mostly plastic and paper) to make the ruffled sleeve, gluing then sewing the pieces individually to the straps.

I made fake "buttons" from gold beads cut from the string of candle jewels, and defined the waist with the gold-mesh ribbon, which meets in the back to make a diamond detail:

The skirt I made by draping the shower curtain and pinning it into place. The pins couldn't take too much weight, though, or they'd tear through the vinyl, so I ended up attaching it in the back using mostly strips of stick-on velcro.

Not being able to sew vinyl also made it difficult to attach the tulle to the skirt. I eventually ended up using a combination of hot glue and good old double-sided tape, with a layer of packing tape to hold it down. Not very washable--but hey, most wedding gowns are only worn once, right? I covered the tape with the rest of the cream colored ribbon.

I cut the candle jewels into individual clusters of beads, then used the wire to attach them as accents on the tulle. I used the rest of the gold mesh to make a border at the hem of the skirt.
I must say, I'm not 100% thrilled with the results on the skirt, but if it were really silk, I think it would be fabulous.

Cutting the bodice up the back so I could put it on was scary, but it would hardly be worth it unless I could wear it, right? So I made a velcro attachment in the back.

I used the leftover scraps of tulle and the stems from the calla lilles to make the bridal bouquet. I even had enough tulle and gold mesh left to make a veil! I sent this picture to my Mom as an April Fool's joke. Don't I make a lovely bride?

Thanks for checking out my entry. Now line up ladies, it's time to catch the bouquet!

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